First Year Trip


Frequently Asked Questions

Deciding to do the First-Year Trip
Q: Who goes on FT?
Q: What if I have never been camping before?
Q: Is financial aid available?

Planning Ahead and Getting Ready
Q: Should I be working out to get ready for FT?
Q: What do I need to buy for my trip?
Q: Isn't all of this stuff going to be terribly expensive?
Q: What is the food like?
Q: There are bathrooms and showers with good water-pressure in the woods, aren't there?
Q: Why can't I bring deodorant, soap, or scented body lotion?

Equipment
Q: How can I tell if my rain gear is really waterproof?
Q: What kind of backpack do I need?
Q: What should I look for when choosing a sleeping bag?
Q: Why can't I bring my down sleeping bag on FT?

Coming to Norman
Q: When can I move in to my room?
Q: What do I do about accommodations the night before?
Q: How do I get to Norman from the airport?
Q: Where can my parents park their car on check-in day?
Q: Can I store stuff? how much?
Q: Is storage secure?
Q: Can my parents get into my room and begin to move stuff in before I get back?

Deciding to do the First-Year Trip

Q: Who goes on FT?
A: Incoming first-year students from the University of Oklahoma make up the majority of the group, while a number of upperclassmen/women help provide the group with some guidance to the backcountry.

Q: What if I have never been camping before?
A: All the better! No prior experience necessary. We are able to accomodate a variety of different levels and to provide the appropriate learning experiences and physical challenges for those who have never been camping before and those who are pros. Participants who have never been camping before often learn the most about themselves and have the most rewarding experiences. On the trip, leaders teach all the skills and provide all the info participants need to be comfortable.

Q: Is financial aid available?
A: No. Unfortunately, financial aid is not available to participants because the trip is voluntary.

Planning Ahead and Getting Ready

Q: Should I be working out to get ready for the First-Year Trip?
A: Yes! We encourage everyone to engage in some type of regular physical activity in preparation for the trip. Hiking and backpacking involve physical challenge, and we've found that people who prepare a little for trips are less tired and enjoy hiking more. That said, there are different levels of trips to accommodate different levels of athletic ability and experience.

Q: What do I need to buy for my trip?
A: Please see the equipment list. Most importantly, you want well-broken in hiking boots, waterproof rain-gear and as little cotton as possible.

Q: Isn't all of this stuff going to be terribly expensive?
A: New outdoor gear from specialty backpacking stores can be expensive, but going on the First-Year Trip doesn't have to cost a fortune. OA has some gear you may borrow, such as backpacks and sleeping bags. (These are limited, however, and available only on a first-come, first-served basis, so please let us know in advance what you need!) You may also want to consider borrowing from friends or family, but test any gear to make sure it's durable and in good condition before you bring it with you. Borrowed gear also needs to fit well enough to be worn comfortably all week. Although the price of new clothing is high, it may help to think of it as an investment. Many OAers and leaders find that the cool-weather gear they buy for FT is great to have around during the chilly Oklahoma winter and early spring.

Q: What is the food like?
A: Please see our menu information. If you have any allergies or special dietary needs, please contact us right away!

Q: There are bathrooms and showers with good water-pressure in the woods, aren't there?
A: Well, not exactly. Spending six days in the wilderness includes learning how to keep clean when there aren't showers and going to the bathroom in the woods. But don't worry, this is a first time for many and your leaders will explain everything you need to know to be comfortable. A few of the sites where we stay have outhouses because they are high-use areas and in these cases concentrating the impact of human waste causes the least damage to delicate wilderness areas.

Q: Why can't I bring deodorant, soap, or scented body lotion?
A: There are several reasons. Wild animals in the areas we use, such as chipmunks, mice and black bears, are attracted to the same delicious odors that you enjoy, and if they smell something good, they will bite through your pack in search of a bite to eat. We provide biodegradeable soap, which helps keep us clean and has less impact on the environment than commercial soaps made with perfumes and phosphates. Also, wearing deodorant when you are hiking every day and not showering is not good for you because it traps sweat and the toxins it excretes under the surface of your skin. When this happens for days on end, it can cause rashes or infections.

Equipment

Q: How can I tell if my rain gear is really waterproof?
A: Shower in it. (No, we aren't kidding!)

Q: What kind of backpack do I need?
A: External frame packs should be at least 3400 cubic inches with room to lash on sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Internal frame packs should be at least 4500-5000 cubic inches. Please see our backpack advice for more information.

Q: What should I look for when choosing a sleeping bag?
A: Sleeping bags are rated by temperature. (If the one you're looking at isn't, definitely don't take it.) For the First-Year Trip, bags should be warm to at least 20 degrees and should have 4-6 inches of loft (thickness when laid on the ground). Please note that participants are asked NOT to bring down sleeping bags on the First-Year Trip.

Q: Why can't I bring my down sleeping bag on the trip?
A: Sleeping bags work by trapping pockets of still air in their insulation, which your body then heats up to keep you toasty all night. Down sleeping bags use tiny puff of feathers to do this, and synthetic bags use a mass of fine synthetic fibers. When they get wet, the feathers in down sleeping bags clump together and loose their ability to trap air. Synthetic fiber does not suffer from this drawback, and it dries much more quickly than down. There is a chance that in a heavy downpours sleeping bags may get wet, so we don't want to take the risk of getting stuck several days out into the wilderness with a wet bag that won't dry! Also, when it's not raining, there can be very high levels of humidity. This means that you may perspire in your sleeping bag, again rendering down sleeping bags much less effective. As a final note, you may hear some people tell you that down sleeping bags are warmer per ounce of weight than synthetic ones. This is true, but it does not mean it's not possible to buy synthetic sleeping bags that are as warm as down ones. It only means that a synthetic bag rated to 20 degrees will be slightly heavier, but just as warm, as a down bag which is also rated to 20 degrees.

Coming to Norman

Q: When can I move in to my room?
A: Guides and participants will be able to move into rooms the day we return from the trip. A separate Housing and Food Services fee will be charged to your bursar account for the use of the room prior to the regular check-in date. To request this service please contact us, and ensure we respond to your message. Check in for those individuals requesting rooms begins at 1:00 p.m. at the housing center where the person will live and continues until 5:00 p.m. and is again open from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Q: What do I do about accommodations the night before?
A: The First-Year Trip does not provide housing before check-in; however, there are many hotels in the area; for suggestions try a travel guide with a section on Norman or a website such as www.normanok.com.

Q: How do I get to Norman from the airport?
A: The First-Year Trip provides transportation from the airport to the Honors College. Please contact us with your name, date of travel, air carrier, and date and time of arrival. A representative from Outdoor Adventure First-Year Trip will meet you in baggage claim holding a sign with your last name, the First-Year Trip, and the University of Oklahoma .

Q: Where can my parents park their car on check-in day?
A: Parking for parents and students is available in parking spaces very close to the Honors Office. All parking spots are south of Lindsey. A few spaces are available on the west side of Asp and in the loop on Cate Center Drive. A large parking lot just east of the Honors Office between Asp and Jenkins is also available. If you are unable to find parking, contact us and we will help you find some.

Q: Can I store stuff? how much?
A: We have very little storage space--each participant may store one small bag. If you can, it would be a good idea to give any extra items to your parents before you say good-bye. If you are traveling from far away, it is a better idea to ship any extra belongings (well in advance, so that it will be ready to move in when you get back!)

Q: Is storage secure?
A: Yes, items are stored under lock and key in places where no one will be in and out of until after the trip.

Q: Can my parents get into my room and begin to move stuff in before I get back?
A: Unfortunately, no. In order to receive a room key, Housing requires each student show his or her student I.D.

Questions? Contact us at oa@ou.edu. Updated June 29, 2006